Elvis Presley was born here; pretty soon his fans can be buried here. In January, William and Linda Kinard purchased nearly 16 acres of land to be developed into Elvis Presley Heights Memorial Gardens.
The pair developed the plan to provide plots for Elvis fans more than a decade ago when they watched observances on TV in memory of the King of Rock n' Roll. "We thought it would be a great idea for the fans," said William Kinard, president and CEO of Fans Forever.
The Kinards and their partners first looked for a potential site in Memphis, then someone told them about a place called Elvis Presley Heights off Briar Ridge Road, just a stone's throw from Lawhon Elementary School, where Elvis attended, and a mere hop, skip and jump from his birthplace.
"It was amazing to find a place in walking distance from his house," William Kinard said. The city of Tupelo has approved initial plans for the cemetery, but the project design still needs to be submitted for final approval by the city.
As many fans know, "Elvis" and "Elvis Presley" are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, which declined opportunities to be part of the project. "We don't use Elvis Presley," William Kinard said. "We always use Elvis Presley Heights."
There will be no statues or salutes to Elvis on the cemetery grounds, but a four-room shotgun shack on the property will house portions of Becky Martin's collection of memorabilia. Martin was one of Elvis' childhood friends.
The project does have an official Presley presence. Donna Presley Early, Elvis' first cousin, has been hired for public relations duties. "We think this will really appeal to his fans," she said. "It's a tribute." An official ground-breaking will take place 10 a.m. today at the site behind the Dollar General on East Main Street.
After that, Fans Forever will begin taking money for plots ($2,500), mausoleums ($5,000), urn niches ($1,500) and more.